Derry Journal

Call For Forensic Laboratory Inquiry

Friday 30th July 2004

A member of the legal team defending Derry man Seamus Doherty, currently on remand in Maghaberry Prison on explosives charges, has called for a public inquiry into the workings of the Forensic Science laboratory.

The comments came during a press conference called to launch a campaign to secure the release of Mr. Doherty.

The Derry man is being held on the basis of DNA evidence which the prosecution allege links him to a bomb found on the Omeath Road outside Newry.

However, two other men charged in connection with the same offence were later released when it emerged that British soldiers interfered with forensic evidence and that the PSNI had asked forensic scientists to modify their statements to protect an informant.

Campaigners for Mr. Doherty have claimed that the evidence against the Derry man was planted and demanded his immediate release.

At this week's launch Marion Price, of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, said that the evidence against Seamus Doherty was "a blatant frame-up".

Calling for the beginning of a camapign to highlight the case Ms Price said that they would take to the streets if necessary to secure the Derryman's release.

A former Sinn Fein councillor from Newry, Martin Cunningham, described the case as a "human rights issue".

Mr. Doherty, he said, remained "languishing" in prison despite "clear proof" of interference with evidence.

Mr. Aidan Carlin, a member of Mr. Doherty's legal team, said it was not the only case in which nationalists and republicans had been framed. He cited the case of four Tyrone men recently found not guilty on weapons charges.

He further called for an inquiry into the workings of the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Seamus Doherty's family also revealed that, in an apparent new turn of events, the PSNI now admit visiting the Brandywell man's flat - something they previously denied.

The family allege that this visit was used by the police to collect a DNA sample that could be used to "frame" Mr. Doherty.

Meanwhile the Irish Republican Socialist Party have demanded Mr. Doherty's immediate release.

In a statement the group said that they have in the past demonstrated along with Seamus Doherty's family and that they wil continue to do so.

They added: "While this is undoubtedly a classic case of injustice it has always been our view that the British never had and never will have the right to imprison people no matter what the reason."

The IRSP added: "The now well documented intrusion into the forensic lab by members of the British Army to plant evidence on clothing belonging to arrested republicans is nothing new.

"This activity has been going on for decades and does not surprise us but it will come as a surprise to those who have bought into the British pacification process and the associated propaganda that continually tells us that the Brits are honest brokers in the Irish conflict "This case alone proves they are not."

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